A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood With Southall, Hillingdon With Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow With Pinner. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
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No church or priest at Perivale is mentioned in Domesday Book, but a document of 1203, which refers to Perivale as East Greenford, mentions a church near the Brent. (fn. 1) In the mid 13th century the patronage was vested in the priory of St. Helen, Bishopsgate. (fn. 2) The advowson descended with the manor of Perivale from the time of the first recorded presentations in the 14th century until 1911, when it was conveyed to the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith. (fn. 3) In 1963 the patronage was still exercised by the Society. Although the church was described as St. James's in the 19th century, (fn. 4) the original dedication was not known; (fn. 5) in 1951, after the discovery of a reference to 'the churchyard of St. Mary of Little Greenford' in a 15th-century will, the church was dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin. (fn. 6)
The benefice of Perivale is a rectory and seems never to have been appropriated. The benefice was valued at 6 marks in the mid 13th century. (fn. 7) It was worth £2 in 1291, (fn. 8) and £6 13s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 9) In 1650 the income of the benefice, which included all the tithes, was valued at approximately £55. (fn. 10) There was said to be 2 a. of glebe in 1705, (fn. 11) and 3 a. in 1839. (fn. 12) During the late 18th century the value of the benefice increased slowly to £185 in 1831. (fn. 13)
The rectory-house, adjoining the churchyard to the north, dated in part from the 15th century, with 17th- and 18th-century additions. (fn. 14) The house is not mentioned before 1828 when it was said to be unfit for habitation. (fn. 15) During the 19th century the house was further extended and modernized for use as a lay residence. (fn. 16) After 1900, however, it was allowed to fall into disrepair, and despite local attempts to preserve it, was finally demolished in 1958. (fn. 17) Little is known about the religious life of the parish, but the available evidence suggests that at almost all periods before the mid 19th century the rector was non-resident and the cure neglected. In 1302 the Rector of Perivale was excommunicated for nonpayment of papal tenths. (fn. 18) Complaints of the inefficiency of John Pearson (rector 1573-87) led to his being examined in the scriptures in 1586. (fn. 19) The Interregnum seems to have been marked by laxity in the administration of the cure. On visitation in 1685 the church registers were found to be deficient and the fabric out of repair. (fn. 20)
During the 18th century the rector, who normally lived in London, combined the cure with the enjoyment of the chapel at West Twyford. A single Sunday service was held, with a second service, provided for by an annual gift of £6 made in 1722, on the afternoon of the first Sunday in each month. (fn. 21) There were no children to be catechized, and Communion was celebrated four times a year. (fn. 22) In 1790 the sacrament was said to have been long neglected, the registers had disappeared, and all the communicants accompanied the rector from London. (fn. 23) From about 1786 a curate, living at Ealing, assisted with the cure, (fn. 24) and probably served the parish during the incumbency of F. J. Lateward (rector 1812-61). Lateward was non-resident and combined the cure with a London living. (fn. 25) During his absence the church fittings seem to have fallen into disrepair. In 1836 the parish vestry resolved to purchase a second-hand bible and prayer book for use in the church. A motion to provide a new font and cover was negatived on the grounds that there were no christenings in the parish. (fn. 26)
During the incumbency of Charles Hughes (rector 1861-1907) the use of vestments was introduced and the Eucharist was sung on Sundays. (fn. 27) Attendance by non-resident communicants was encouraged, and grave-plots offered to strangers at exorbitant prices. (fn. 28) In 1904 attendance was said to be full. (fn. 29) High church practice was maintained after 1907, and in 1965 the main Sunday service was sung Mass. (fn. 30)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN stands among the trees on the south side of Church Lane in the extreme south-west of the parish. (fn. 31) It is approached through a timber lychgate, erected in 1904, and by a footpath which continues southward across the River Brent. The churchyard is surrounded on three sides by the course of the Ealing Golf Club. The church, one of the smallest in the county, consists of chancel, nave, west tower, and south porch. The nave and chancel, which may date from the later 13th century, have walls of flint and rubble, stuccoed externally; the roofs are tiled. A single 13th-century window survives in the chancel, but the earliest features visible in the nave are of 15th-century date; they include the crown-post roof, the west doorway, and two windows in the north wall. The weather-boarded west tower, which is of timber construction and has a pyramidal tiled roof, was probably added in the early 16th century, together with the narrow gallery at the west end of the nave. The chancel arch and most of the window and door openings in the church date from the 19th century. The south porch was probably added in the 17th century and rebuilt in 1875 when the interior of the church was much restored. (fn. 32) At that time an architectural authority advocated that 'all the rest of the Puritanical and Georgian anomalies, especially the Punch and Judy construction called the tower' be removed. (fn. 33)
A single brass in the floor of the nave shows Henry Millett (d. 1505), with his two wives and their sixteen children. Wall monuments in the church commemorate members of the families of Millett, Lane, and Lateward. Monuments in the nave include one to Lane Harrison (d. 1740) by Thomas Ady, (fn. 34) and one incorporating figure sculpture to Ellen Nicholas (d. 1815), signed by Richard Westmacott. The small octagonal font is of late-15thcentury date, with an elaborate carved wooden cover given by Simon Coston in 1665. One window in the church has re-set fragments of 15th-century glass. The church plate, part of which was dated 1625, consisted in 1685 of a silver chalice and cover, flagon, and plate. (fn. 35) These were exchanged by the incumbent in 1875 for a French silver-gilt cup and paten. (fn. 36) In 1937 there were two bells: (i) 1699, by William Eldrid; (ii) inscribed 1834. These were recast and, with the addition of a third bell, rehung in 1948. (fn. 37) The registers, some of which are said to have been sold in the early 19th century, (fn. 38) record baptisms from 1707, and marriages and burials from 1720.
The rapid increase in population during the 1930s and the remoteness of the parish church from the bulk of the parish necessitated the erection of an additional building to serve the new housing areas to the north and east. The daughter church of ST. NICHOLAS, a brick-built hall-church off Federal Road, was consecrated in 1934. In 1963 work began on a permanent church and vicarage sited immediately west of the old building. By this date St. Nicholas's church had largely replaced the old parish church as the centre of worship in Perivale. In 1963 three assistant priests helped the rector in the general administration of the parish and in religious and social work in the Perivale factories. (fn. 39)